By the way, doctor: What can I do about earwax buildup?

Published: February, 2008

Q. My doctor recently noticed lots of wax in my ear, almost blocking the canal. How did this happen? What should I do about it?

A. If the wax in your ear isn't causing any trouble, you needn't do anything about it. Earwax (cerumen) is made in the external auditory canal. Its function is protective. Normally, it forms a film on the surface of the skin lining the canal, helping shield the canal from damage by water, infection, or trauma. Earwax also traps particles, such as dust, and helps eliminate bacteria that could damage the canal or the delicate eardrum (tympanic membrane).

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »